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- ISBN-13: 9780804138246
- ISBN-10: 0804138249
- Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
- Publish Date: April 2017
- Page Count: 384
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-01-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Whipple, a documentary filmmaker and first-time author, surveys recent U.S. presidential history by profiling chiefs of staff from Nixon to Obama. He doesnt quite justify his subtitle or even try particularly hard to prove its far-reaching claim, but he does recount a vibrant narrative of the real-world West Wing and give insight into the oft-mentioned but little-explained role of White House Chief of Staff. Repurposing original interviews conducted for a documentary film that Whipple cowrote, The Presidents Gatekeepers, the book is peppered with stories and insights from many of the chiefs of staff and other key players including presidents Carter and George H.W. Bush. Whipple also draws from other histories and political memoirs, giving the book an insiders feel as it recounts historical episodes such as the Watergate break-in, the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the 9/11 attacks, and the unsuccessful rollout of healthcare.gov. The confident and fast-paced narrative is enhanced by having actual historical players contribute well-rounded (and sometimes surprising) characterizations of presidents and other Washington luminaries. In this page-turner of a history, readers will discover new facets of historical events that they felt they already knew. Agent: Lisa Queen, Queen Literary Agency. (Apr.)
The power behind the President
When a presidential campaign is over and the winning candidate is in the White House, he (and in the future, she) must face the difficult task of turning political rhetoric into concrete legislation or executive action. Presidents get accustomed to people agreeing with them, but it is imperative that the top elected official in the land has someone with the authority to challenge the president. He or she must be willing to “speak truth to power” when problems emerge and must be ready to accept the blame when things go wrong, but be certain that when things go well, the president is the one who receives credit.
For many years that person has been the White House chief of staff. With his carefully researched, bipartisan and eminently readable The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, Chris Whipple has written a must-read book for all who want a backstage view of the presidency, from the Richard Nixon years through Barack Obama’s two terms. Based on extensive, intimate interviews with all 17 living former chiefs of staff, former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, and many others, this is a treasure trove of experiences. James Baker, chief of staff for Ronald Reagan, who later served as treasury secretary and secretary of state, says a strong argument can be made that the position is the “second-most-powerful job in government.” Forty years after he served as Gerald Ford’s chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld said the position was “unquestionably the toughest job I ever had,” despite later serving as secretary of defense under two presidents.
Whipple is an acclaimed writer, documentary filmmaker and multiple Peabody and Emmy Award-winning producer at CBS’ “60 Minutes” and ABC’s “Primetime.” The remarkably candid interviews and reader-friendly narrative of this book make for very informative and entertaining reading.